Congress sends Rus­sia sanc­tions bill to Trump; un­clear if he’ll veto

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Karoun Demir­jian

WASH­ING­TON» The Se­nate voted over­whelm­ingly Thurs­day to pass a bill in­creas­ing sanc­tions against Rus­sia, Iran and North Korea, es­tab­lish­ing ve­to­proof ma­jori­ties for the mea­sure that also al­lows Congress to block Pres­i­dent Trump from eas­ing sanc­tions against Moscow.

The 98-2 vote sets the pres­i­dent up with a piv­otal choice: veto the bill know­ing that law­mak­ers are pre­pared to over­ride, as com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief An­thony Scara­mucci sug­gested this morn­ing on CNN that he might, or sign the leg­is­la­tion that binds his hands when it comes to al­ter­ing sanc­tions pol­icy against Moscow, a pro­vi­sion his ad­min­is­tra­tion lob­bied hard against.

Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Bernie San­ders, I-Vt., were the only sen­a­tors to vote against the bill. The two were also the only votes against an ear­lier ver­sion of the leg­is­la­tion the Se­nate passed last month, also by a vote of 98-2, that fo­cused on just Rus­sia and Iran.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders de­clined to say whether the pres­i­dent would veto the bill.

“We’re go­ing to wait and see what that fi­nal leg­is­la­tion looks like and make a de­ci­sion at that point,” she said. But in an in­ter­view on CNN ear­lier in the day, Scara­mucci said Trump “may veto the sanc­tions” to “ne­go­ti­ate an even tougher deal against the Rus­sians.”

It is un­likely that prom­ise will be per­sua­sive to mem­bers of Congress, who banded to­gether in near-unan­i­mous num­bers to en­dorse un­prece­dented over­sight pow­ers on the pres­i­dent’s sanc­tions au­thor­ity, a sign of many law­mak­ers’ con­cerns that Trump is fos­ter­ing a toowarm re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and may scale back puni­tive mea­sures against Moscow.

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